The reason? As climate change grows in importance as an issue, hybrids and EVs become more favored, thanks to reduced emissions, noise and operating costs, according to the report.
The hurdles in the way? For one, batteries are not yet reliable, long-lasting or inexpensive enough. With prices over $1,000 per kilowatt-hour for lithium-ion packs, things could add up quickly when it comes to the vehicle's sticker price. For example, the Chevrolet Volt hybrid has a 16-kilowatt-hour pack and the Nissan Leaf EV has a 24-kilowatt-hour pack.
Do the math, and it's clear electric vehicles will remain niche until the price comes (way) down -- to, say, $250 per kilowatt-hour. (See Chuck Squatriglia's Wired article about the report, which examines the price challenge more thoroughly.)
The build out of a true smart grid at the local level is also necessary, the report says. New transformers and substations will be needed to allow for increased demand associated with turning gas stations (and homes) into power stations, and automakers, car dealerships, municipalities and utilities must work together to make change happen.
Plus, a mental barrier remains for drivers who worry about traveling 100 miles, the car dying, and having nowhere to charge up.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration's pledge of $2.4 billion for next-generation vehicles -- as well as tax credits and grants -- should usher along development.
Global Insight says most true electrics will appear in urban areas where range isn't of concern, while plug-in hybrids will pop up in suburbs. (Hybrids and EVs remain a tough sell in rural areas.)
Will you buy an electric vehicle? Do coming models fit your driving needs?